Jeremiah 20:

(18 verses, 4:00 to read)


What I am about to READ

Jeremiah is put in the stocks.  Later he praises God, but complains to him as well.


Jeremiah had been preaching at the end of Chapter 19, saying that the people that destruction was soon to fall upon them because of their continual sin. Here in Chapter 20, after hearing this preaching, Pashhur locks Jeremiah in the stocks so that he can be mocked by the people and as punishment for preaching that which he didn’t like.  When Jeremiah is released, he prophecies to Pashhur the woes which will come upon him in Babylon.

What follows after this episode is a prayer of praise and complaint by Jeremiah.  He acknowledges that the Lord called him to be a prophet apart from his own will, that the Lord “deceived” him (vs. 7) and used him as an instrument of his will. This is the beautiful part of the prophetic office, at least for the people of God: the prophet will not speak of his own volition.  It is the Lord who speaks through him.  The people can rely on the words of the prophet of God, but as we see in this chapter, they do not want to hear what the prophet has to say.  Thus making the prophet, in this case Jeremiah, to suffer at the hands of the people.

Jeremiah even praises God for this.  He calls upon God to vindicate him and to crush his enemies.  He also complains to God about his afflictions.  Now, we might think that complaining to God would be a negative thing, that we should accept the will of God and not question his intents.  Well, yes and no.  We should acknowledge his will for us as the best, but as the psalms and this passage indicate, we call out to God when we do not understand and thus complain to God in faith.

Complaint is actually a high form of praise.  It calls upon God and acknowledges him as the creator and we the creature. It holds him accountable to his gracious promises to us. Though Jeremiah curses the day of his birth (vss. 14-18) his curses and laments go unfulfilled before God.  God is letting him “vent”.  When we complain in faith to God, we do so only on the basis that “God’s will is done even without our prayer, but we pray that his will be done among us also”  (Small Catechism).


Lord God, I often do not understand what you are doing with me.  My foes surround me.  My words go unheeded and the laugh at me.  But you are faithful.  You will deliver me.  For the sake of your Son Jesus, who endured shame and torment for me, you have forgiven my sin and will bring at last to that place where there is no shame.  In Jesus Name, Amen.


Pr. Ross

Pastor, Faith Ev. Lutheran Church

Johnstown, Colorado


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